Three year old boys are ready to tell you their favorite stories, eager to know their world better, and are seeking out tools that help them learn. They’re on the hunt for toys that will get them up and moving, plus games that will keep them sorting and stacking, thinking and discovering new things. If you’re looking for a gift for a three year old boy, you’re in luck! We picked our absolute favorites to share here, so take a look – we bet you’ll find something they’ll love.

The Winners

#1

The Original PlasmaCar by PlaSmart

Best Overall

This cool car for both kids and adults has no batteries, pedals or gears, instead using natural forces to propel itself. Kids can have a seat in the patented safety seat, put their feet into the foot rests and turn the wheel to get started. This pick stays lots of fun as they grow, thanks to a weight limit of 220 lbs – even parents can take a turn playing with the PlasmaCar! It’s super safe, meeting standards in the US, CA and Europe, and it’s available in lots of colors.

Developmental & Play Insights The Original PlasmaCar by PlaSmart

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#2

KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table

Upgrade Choice

This huge, exciting train table would make a stately addition to any nursery, bedroom or playroom. The KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table features a lush green town setting with a pretty lake and growing trees. The town features a farm, construction site, helipad, bridge, shops and more. Plenty of friendly townies populate the map, giving kids tons of opportunities for creative play.

It’s a very large table, so there’s plenty of room for kids to socialize and share. The two storage bins underneath the table slide in and out easily, which makes cleanup a breeze. It’s perfect for encouraging both imagination and motor skill development.

Developmental & Play Insights KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#3

Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Cars

Best Budget Buy

RC cars are always a blast, and this convenient two pack is a perfect pick for siblings, pals or racing with a parent. The Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Cars set includes two cars, red and blue, with two drivers, a cop and a racer. Two remotes are also included, which feature an adorable steering wheel theme and are just the right size for three year old hands.

The cars feature two channel motion, which means they can go forward and backward. They feature sirens, honking, music and flashing lights for sensory engagement, and mastering the controls helps kids develop their hand eye coordination. They’ll have a blast imitating police chases and racing each other with this pair, which operates on different frequencies to make cooperative play frustration free.

Developmental & Play Insights Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Cars

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#4

Little Tikes Gas Go Mower

Pretend play that mimics activities parents do is a big favorite of three year olds, and this cute mower from Little Tikes is a fun update from the childhood classic bubble mower. It’s a push mower in a realistic green, yellow and black color scheme that has beads in a bubble which pop and bounce as the mower is pushed. 

The Little Tikes Gas Go Mower comes with a red gas can that can be removed for pretend play. The cord pulls and makes real engine sounds, and the clicking key and moving throttle add extra realism to their creativity. It’s a great pick for improving gross motor skills, plus it can help toddlers build balance and coordination.

Developmental & Play Insights Little Tikes Gas Go Mower

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#5

Melissa & Doug Winged Dragon

Chances are good that by age three, he’s got his fair share of teddy bears. Instead, think bigger – dragon sized, in fact! This fierce furry friend, Melissa & Doug Winged Dragon is soft to hug with features that make him look battle ready. Exposed teeth and horns give him an edge, but his glittery wings and plushy body with fun scale detailing make him fun to squeeze and a great bedtime companion or prop in imaginative play. He looks great in nurseries, playrooms and bedrooms. One important side note: though he be large, our dragon pal is not a ride-on toy.

Developmental & Play Insights Melissa & Doug Winged Dragon

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#6

Educational Insights Design Activity Center

This Educational Insights Design Activity Center is a unique pick that’s great for helping younger kids safely develop an understanding of basic tools and engineering concepts. It’s essentially a peg board, but colorful bolts can be added and taken away through the use of a reversible power drill or manual screwdriver. All parts are made of safe, chunky plastic and designed for toddlers and kids to use easily. They can make their own patterns or design creations from the 12 enclosed activity cards. Quick note: throw 3 AA batteries into the gift bag, because this pick needs them but they’re not included.

Developmental & Play Insights Casdon Dyson Ball Vacuum

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#7

Vox Box Kids Walkie Talkies

Offering tons of fun on the go, the Vox Box Kids Walkie Talkies give an impressive 2 miles of coverage. They’re voice activated, which makes them extra safe and easy to use. They have a couple of unique features, like an earbud jack and an LED flashlight which can make field exploration a little more secure. They’re a great way to stay connected on family trips, especially if you’re hiking or splitting up at an event or amusement park. They can be a fun addition to many types of pretend play, and they’ll continue to be fun and interesting to kids as they grow.

Developmental & Play Insights Tot Tube Playset

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#8

HOMOFY Magnetic Blocks for Kids

This very unique building set, HOMOFY Magnetic Blocks for Kids can be lots of fun for kids of any age – in fact, parents might have a hard time pulling themselves away from their creations. It features powerful but safe magnetic tiles in squares, triangles and fixture shapes which allow for the building of unique 3D creations. Kids can build cars, ferris wheels and more with this expansive set, which is colorful and durable. It’s a great pick for helping them develop fine motor skills, improve understanding of cause and effect and begin to conceptualize about spatial reasoning.

Developmental & Play Insights HOMOFY Magnetic Blocks for Kids

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#9

Little Tikes Inflatable Jump 'n Slide Bounce House

What could be better than an Inflatable Jump ‘n Slide Bounce House in your very own backyard? Little Tikes is a trusted manufacturer of inflatables for kids, and they’ll have a blast with this huge, fun pick. It has a 250 lb weight limit, so it can accommodate multiple kids at once. It’s low to the ground with mesh sides, so it’s very safe, and the wide slide means no waiting to go down. Stakes and a heavy duty blower are included with this pick, so setting up and securing your bounce house doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Developmental & Play Insights Holy Stone RC Cartoon Race Car

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#10

ETI Lil Engineers Engineering Blocks

Building sets are great for encouraging logical thinking, problem solving and creativity. The ETI Lil Engineers Engineering Blocks is a unique pick and a little more engaging than your average set of blocks, using panels and bolts to build 3D creations with moving parts. Fixtures like wheels let kids make cool cars, using cause and effect to see what works and what doesn’t. They can make their own unique creations, or build one of the 12 cool designs featured in the enclosed eBook. This set is brightly colored and kid safe, plus they’ll keep enjoying it as they grow.

Developmental & Play Insights Melissa & Doug Monster Bowling Game

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#11

Hape Pound Bench Slide Xylophone

Music and rhythm toys are great picks for three year olds, and the Hape Pound Bench Slide Xylophone has a unique twist. It’s stored inside a pounding bench with a cute rainbow design. The bench features 3 balls, which can be pounded through using the enclosed kid-safe mallet. The balls will then fall onto the xylophone, creating music. The xylophone and the bench can both be used independently of each other, so there’s plenty of play opportunities here. It’s a great pick for helping them build hand eye coordination and small motor control.

Developmental & Play Insights Hape Pound Bench Slide Xylophone

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#12

Large AquaDoodle Drawing Mat

AquaDoodle is a great way for kids to express their creativity with no mess and no wasted paper. This extra Large AquaDoodle Drawing Mat is great for sharing. It features a dino world pattern, and it comes with four fun pens, eight drawing molds, four drawing templates and a booklet for inspiration. These tools and water can be used to create drawings and designs on the AquaDoodle mat, but there’s no cleanup necessary. As the water dries, the designs will disappear, leaving the mat clean for a new use! It’s a great pick for inspiring creativity that they’ll return to again and again, plus it’s awesome inside and out.

Developmental & Play Insights Large AquaDoodle Drawing Mat

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#13

Prince Lionheart Balance Bike

As kids reach age three, they’re starting to transition away from ride on toys, but they’re not generally ready for a real bike. This adorably retro balance bike is a great compromise between the two. The Prince Lionheart Balance Bike encourages younger riders to develop balance and coordination, but doesn’t require any pedaling. The solid rubber tires offer plenty of grip, and the handles are solid rubber as well, so holding on is easy. The beautiful 100% Birch frame is extra durable, and the seat of the balance bike can be adjusted so that they can continue to enjoy it as they grow.

Developmental & Play Insights Prince Lionheart Balance Bike

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#14

Wistoyz Hover Soccer Ball Set

Rainy days don’t have to cut into their soccer fun, thanks to the Wistoyz Hover Soccer Ball Set that can easily transition from inside to outside. The set comes with two lightweight goals and an indoor hover soccer ball with soft edges that intuitively bounces off all furniture and objects without any damage. Any room with a smooth surface, such as hardwood, low carpet or tile, can easily become a playing field for an awesome soccer game. Want to play outside? No problem. An inflatable outdoor ball is included with the set, so it’s lots of fun no matter the terrain.

Developmental & Play Insights Little Tikes Cozy Truck Ride-On

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#14

Wistoyz Hover Soccer Ball Set

This tall and exciting skyway tower from Fischer-Price is a great pick that grows with little ones. The bright blue, green, yellow and red structure starts as a quaint little town with a car wash, gas pump and more. With the help of a parent, it grows into a skyway with thrilling spiraling ramps which tops out at an impressive three feet.
The Fisher-Price Little Sit ‘n Stand Skyway is a durable pick that can be fun both inside and out, and it comes with two fun cars that are the perfect size for three year olds.

Developmental & Play Insights Little Tikes Cozy Truck Ride-On

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

How to Pick the Perfect Gift for a Three-year-old Boy

Consider Their Developmental Stage

Whenever you’re choosing a toy or gift for a child, the best course of action is to think about where they are developmentally. This will help you make a toy pick that’s safe for them, and will be both beneficial and enjoyable. When you choose a toy that’s specifically suited to their stage of developing abilities, you can be sure that they’ll have a blast while learning.

At age 3, kids are beginning to improve their fine and gross motor skills. They’re better at holding crayons and cutlery, and their balance and coordination are both showing noticeable development. They’re more social and seek out opportunities to play with other kids. They’re also becoming experts at sorting and categorizing, learning to identify things by color and size as well as how to number items and count from one to ten. They’re more able to remember and repeat information they consider important, and they’re more adept at identifying emotions in themselves and others.

The best toys for 3 year old boys encourage them to engage their developing problem solving and sorting skills as well as continuing to improve their fine and gross motor skills through arts and crafts as well as athletic outdoor play. Age appropriate CDs, DVDs and interactive software games that move at a slow pace are also good in small amounts for down time.

Entertainment vs. Education

As kids reach age three, engaging them cognitively becomes more important. They’re more able to understand numbers, letters and colors, so letting them exercise their naturally developing skills offers them fun that’s also beneficial. They’re at a great age for genuinely enjoying the kinds of toys and games that will help them grow mentally, so it’s best to take advantage of that interest while it persists. They’re still too young for super-complex toys and games, so stick with picks that jive with their ability to follow three-step directions(think “twist the lever, pull the handle, push the button”).

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

Physical development is still very important at age 3, as toddlers are still developing their fine and gross motor skills. They need to move their bodies to grow in a healthy way, so picks that get them outside and stretching their muscles are key. Arts and crafts are also great, as they encourage fine motor skill development, focus and creativity.

Cognitive development is very important to three year olds, who are deeply curious about their world and ready to learn. Engaging them with teaching games is essential, because as they grow, they’ll be more likely to gravitate toward games with pure entertainment value. Making learning fun for them now is a good way to establish a foundation of interest in cognitively engaging activities.

At three, children are learning to actively desire social interaction. It’s a good idea to make sure they’re having some playtime with age appropriate playmates as well as learning basic social skills like politeness, sharing and how to resolve conflicts. Socialization isn’t at the top of the list of importance, but it’s definitely a part of their development that can be encouraged by social toys.

Digital vs. Manual

Three year olds are generally developing more refined small motor skills, which means their manual toys are more about perfecting motor skills than developing them outright. There’s nothing wrong with some digital toys now, but screen time should still be kept to a minimum in order to keep kids interested in social engagement and important physical play. A happy medium that focuses more on staying active while keeping screened toys, CDs and DVDs for natural periods of downtime is great.

Wrapping Up

Three year old boys are happy little bundles of energy that are psyched to explore their world, get messy and ask seemingly limitless questions. Understanding their developmental stage and choosing toys that keep them learning, sorting and developing cognitively is key to helping them grow in a healthy way, stay busy and avoid the restlessness that leads to “unstructured exploring” (or, in parent, getting into everything). Now that you know a little more about the best gifts for 3 year old boys, you’re well on the way to making an awesome pick for the special little guy in your life.

Quick Decision

Plasmart PlasmaCar – Best Overall
This pick stays lots of fun as they grow, thanks to a weight limit of 220 lbs – even parents can take a turn playing with the PlasmaCar!

KidKraft Ride Around Train Set and Table – Upgrade Choice
This huge, exciting train table would make a stately addition to any nursery, bedroom or playroom.

Prextex Pack of 2 Cartoon R/C Cars – Best Budget Buy
This pick can flip, drift and handle sharp turns easily thanks to 4-channel motion and two powerful independent motors.

KIDS BOUNCE HOUSE

Make your child’s next party one to remember.  Check out our complete guide to kid’s bounce houses that will provide them hours of entertainment.

Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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